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Flick: Henry the VIII? No, it's Henry the 12!
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Flick: Henry the VIII? No, it's Henry the 12!

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Life, of course, can pack big surprises.

But this is about a big surprise.

Literally.

Meet Henry Koetters.

He was born the other day at OSF St. Joseph Medical Center in Bloomington, the fourth boy for Matthew and Michelle Koetters, a slim woman who in previous deliveries had what you'd call close to average-sized babies.

That's 7-year-old Paul (born 8.6 pounds), 4-year-old Noah (9 pounds), and 2-year-old Luke (8.3 pounds).

Henry?

He weighed in at (breathe in) 11 pounds and (breathe out) 15 ounces.

(Repeat, as necessary).

"He surprised everyone, even my doctor,” says Michelle. “My 30-week ultrasound showed him only a few ounces bigger … .”

But then …

... Oh Henry!

While there are no official records at OSF for large baby deposits, the Koetters' obstetrician said she'd never delivered a baby as big as Henry. The lactation consultant said she’d not seen, nor could ever remember, a bigger babe, and that’s in 33 years of assisting pregnancies.

As for Michelle?

Before opting out for full-time motherhood, she was a business writer at this newspaper and her job was coming up with words. And she has several for this life situation.

"Completely uncomfortable” are two of them.

But all is well, so is Henry, so is Michelle, and good-natured humor thrives as well. “One friend,” chuckles Michelle, "said there are bowling balls lighter than that.”

... Breathe out.

He’s got the hair for it: While serving a 14-year federal prison term on a 2011 corruption conviction, ex-Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich, as you might have read, has taken up guitar lessons and now is playing and singing in a prison band, The Jailhouse Rockers.

They've become quite popular, according to an AP dispatch, at a federal facility in Littleton, Colo.

Now, we have an update via a Facebook post on the page of his wife, Patty: The band is on hiatus. The lead guitarist has been released from custody. That'd be an obvious problem when you form a prison band.

No word yet, though, if Blago's band does a rendition of the Animals’ hit, “We Gotta Get Out Of This Place.”

The Press makes the press!: Sometimes in life the gems are right in front of you.

In a just-released Food Network list — “Where Cooks Shop: 10 Great Cookware Shops from Coast-to-Coast” — are places like “The Chopping Block” in Chicago, and “Cook’s Companion” in Brooklyn, N.Y., “Artichoke” in Cincinnati, “Pepperoni” in Boulder, and “Fante’s Kitchen Shop” in Philadelphia, and one other.

It’s the Garlic Press in uptown Normal, now in its 40th year. Our own kudos to originator Dotty Bushnell, a nice nice lady who cooked it all up.

So there really is one: In a life where there’s no telling how many times you’ve heard or exclaimed,  “Well, that’d be like trying to find a needle in a haystack! here now is breaking news:

It's finally been found.

It’s in a field just north of Clinton, just off the first exit from Bloomington, on the east side of old U.S. 51. (Thanks to John Eckley of Bloomington for snapping us a picture.)

Today's civic question: 

This being the birthplace of not only Steak ’n Shake but also the Illinois Shakespeare Festival, wouldn’t it be appropriate if, for just one year, the two got together for a Steak ’n Shakespeare Festival?

Another irony of ironies: In 35 well-traveled years as a columnist at this newspaper, your humble correspondent already has been to Rome (a town near Peoria), Venice (in southern Illinois, on the way to a Cardinals’ game) and Florence (a street in east Bloomington).

And now this newspaper wants to send your humbleness to the same places — except in Italy this time — to “lead” a travel group for 10 days in late October.

A bit apprehensive at the start (travel? with me?), we've nonetheless become highly impressed with the itinerary, its fun quotient and its amenities (they even carry around our darned luggage for us!).

Check it out at http://suzidavis.com/pantagraph. As of early Friday, as we understand it, there were still some openings. 

First to commit: a nice couple from Paris.

That’s Paris, Ill., of course.

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